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Lakers Report Cards: Derek Fisher

61124191This is the ninth edition of Lakers Report Cards, focusing today on starting point guard Derek Fisher.

Grade: C+

Even through his offensive shortcomings, Lakers guard Derek Fisher quieted those sentiments most seasons with clutch playoff performances. Even through his increased age and declining speed, Fisher made up for it with intangible leadership and his assistance to team chemistry. And even through the constant questioning of Fisher's overall value, notable figures such as Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson unequivocally appreciated Fisher's presence. Those qualities didn't suddenly evaporate, but they hardly made up for the shortcomings of Fisher's 2010-2011 season. Nor did they make as much of a difference as they had in past seasons.

It showed in Fisher's playoff performances. He may have exceeded his regular-season average, going from 6.8 points per game on 38.9% shooting to 9.3 points on 52.6% shooting in the playoffs, but his numbers in the Lakers' Western Conference semifinals sweep by Dallas dropped to 6.5 points per game on 31% shooting. He offered no late-game clutch play  in the postseason, an obvious missing piece considering Bryant's sudden ineffectiveness late in the game and Pau Gasol's complete disappearing act.

It showed in Fisher's defensive effort. Of course, the 36-year-old Fisher will struggle keeping up with quick guards on screen-and-rolls, just as every player struggles doing so in the NBA. But his continuous fighting through picks, ability to get deflections and strength in organizing the team's defense didn't translate to a unit that continuously blamed each other on missed assignments, sagged on rotations and rarely helped each other. 

And it showed in Fisher's standing as a leader. Fisher's teammates may respect him for his continued efforts in providing a locker-room presence, aiding Bryant's leadership role and delivering Jackson's team message, but their unwillingness to follow the lead of Jackson, Bryant and Fisher show that his job  proved more difficult for him this season than in years past. 

Even so, don't expect Fisher to consider hanging up his laces with two years, including a player option, remaining on his contract. 

"No," Fisher said. "That's not even a thought. I don't really wake up and think about my age or not playing again. I don't view that as a possibility right now. I'm aware of the realities of this team as far as the coaching change and whatever personnel decisions are made as far as Mitch and ownership and management. This is too fun to just walk away from, as disappointing as this finish is. There's too many great things to experience. Being an NBA basketball player is a great opportunity and one I want to continue to enjoy."

I've stated strongly that Fisher has much value to the Lakers while acknowledging his struggles, and I'm not going to waver on that. But his diminished presence this season speaks to a few of Fisher's own shortcomings; more importantly, it says something about the rest of his teammates not valuing his insight.

60807857-1For a while, the Lakers could absorb Fisher's weaknesses. But those weaknesses didn't point to areas most fans would presume. As much as Fisher receives criticism for his defensive speed, he actually deserves the most scrutiny for his shot selection. As ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky recently pointed out, Fisher ranked pretty poorly among the 65 league's point guards in several categories, including a 55th ranking in effective field goal percentage (48.6%), 60th in player efficiency rating (8.94), and despite a jump in stats from the past two seasons, ranked among one of worst in finishing at the rim off the dribble (49.3%).

But the Lakers were able to absorb that because Bryant usually carried the heavier offensive load, the Lakers boasted a tremendous size advantage and Fisher could still knock down late-game baskets whenever the opportunity proved warranted. The Lakers displayed those qualities at certain points throughout the regular season, but they weren't as reliable  in the 2010-2011 campaign. In most cases during the playoffs, they were non-existent, with the exception of  Andrew Bynum's emergence. The fact that Fisher actually increased his minutes from 27.2 last season to 28 this season shows that Steve Blake proved to be a disappointment and that the surrounding cast around Fisher no longer proved as dependable.

Fisher still deserves credit for setting an example with his work ethic; he appeared in all 82 regular-season games for the fourth consecutive season with the Lakers and for the eighth time in the past nine overall. He also showed a determination to compensate for his aforementioned weaknesses with grit: setting a team-first mentality by drawing charges, deflecting passes and helping out on defense. Fisher should be lauded for his role in advocating calls for teammates, publicly and privately supporting them during adverse moments and constantly weighing when to provide positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. And he often warned the team about looming dangers, such as how an underachieving postseason could yield to lots of offseason change, how losing in embarrassing fashion in a closeout game to Dallas would anger the organization and fans, and that they should never take nights off.

But based on the Lakers' on-court play and Bynum's revelation that the team still had "trust issues," Fisher's example and speeches fell on deaf ears. That doesn't mean Fisher's value suddenly becomes meaningless. But with Father Time catching up with Fisher, he'll have to find even more ways to adapt his leadership role and on-court presence so that it's more effective.

"There's not a question on whether I'm coming back or not," Fisher said. "You guys like to ask that question. But I keep giving you the same answer until I'm done. There isn't anything tangible that I measure my success by that tells me today is the day I'm not supposed to be playing basketball. I'm not even close to that. Every bit of me is excited and looking forward to the future. Great things are born out of defeat, adversity and struggle. For me individually and a lot of our guys, after the pain somewhat starts to wear off, that's how we're going to start to look at this thing as an opportunity to come back better and stronger than we ever were."

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at

Top photo: Lakers point guard Derek Fisher goes for a reverse layup in front of Hornets center Emeka Okafor in Game 4 of the Lakers-New Orleans first-round series. Credit: Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

Bottom photo:  Fisher fouls Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook  in a regular season game. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (45)

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Time for me to get a good seat and sit back and watch the fireworks. S Perkins is going to have a field day.

Most of the time kobe brought the ball down court and took shots. If he missed too many, that is when Fisher would assert himself and pass the ball around. Whether that was kobe's game plan or Jackson's, we will never know unless PJ writes another book.

Oh wow ... Dfish time. Bay to LA don't be greedy and pass the popcorn

PSP Intern

Is it about "practice" or "practice season"? I'm confused.

i will let the Practice Season Police to make the judgment.

I'm sure the defense lawyers will rest or will defer to …

Posted by: archived | May 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM



Ouuuchhhhhhhh! wink
You are on fire today!

PSP Intern

As an effective point guard in the NBA, Fisher's days as a player are diminished. Kobe was able in the past to compensate for Fisher's lack of scoring, but Kobe is on the downside of his ability to do that anymore. The Lakers were burned this season continually by opposing point guards. I think the Lakers need Fish, though not as their starting point guard. Gotta love Fish for what he brought to the Lakers.



Father Time catching up with Fish ?
Fish has been caught, chewed and spit out by Father Time.
He is the worst starting PG in the league and has been for 3 years.
We cannot win a championship with this guy starting....forget about it.

Check this trade to help get more athletic and win some more championshipsssss.

Bynum to philly for J Holiday and Igudoula and a #1

and then sign Gasol from memphis. He is a restricted free agent.

Line up: Pg J. Holiday Sg Blk Momba Sf Igudoula Pf and C Gasols

Odom still on bench as the best 6th man. A geat plan we still have 3 bigs and great ball defenders in Kobe, Holiday, and Igudoula. Cant top this trade I should be wanna be GM of the year!!!!! Let me know what you think

Fisher is okay, but I wouldn't even give him a C. He's a little clutch sometimes, he can shoot okay, and take charges, but I think it's time for him to go. The Lakers need to also look toward the future. they need to go after a young PG like Raymond Felton of Denver or Devin Harris of Utah. They need a solid passer who can run the offense and feed the ball to Kobe and Pau. That's the only major move we need.

Haha I'll start it off until the real show starts.

Defense - Always tries to fight through the screen and draw an offensive foul instead of going around and trying to keep up with his man. It's overrated because it usually results in the Lakers bigs having to try to stop a point guard with a full head of steam. Maybe once or twice a game he gets the foul call but it doesn't make up for all of the other times. There is also the often used phrase that no one can keep up with the quick guards. That's true, but most can keep up with the average speed guards and Fisher cannot. On the bright side, he is experienced and knows where to be and gives 100% effort. He knows what he should be doing and wants to do it, he's just physically limited from doing it. Grade: D

Offense - Decent on three pointers going by percentage but he should really be shooting a higher percentage with the open looks he gets. We saw what Dallas shooters shoot when they're wide open from the three point line. His ability to finish at the basket is nonexistent. He gives away wide open layups by trying to collide with a defender so he can get the two free throws instead. He just doesn't make the other team's point guard work hard on defense. Grade: D-

Leadership - I don't hear what he's saying in the huddles so I don't know if he inspires them or makes them better. I hear that he is the only player Kobe listens to but that sounds more like a dig on Kobe than a praise of Fisher. I haven't seen any thing that shows me that he controls Kobe. I've never seen him stand up to Kobe or get in his face after a bad shot but maybe it happens behind closed doors. Grade: N/A I haven't seen his paper

He's a roleplayer they have tried to stretch too far and a lot of people here grade him like he's their own child that can do no wrong. Any criticism and the answer is 5 rings, 0.4, game 3 in 2010, or game 4 in 2009. How about game 3 in 2011? Does he get credit for singlehandedly losing that game the same way he gets credit for singlehandedly winning games? I do not think the Lakers can win anymore with Fisher playing such a major role. The other players aren't strong enough to carry him, they need a point guard that can carry himself. Fisher can stick around for situational plays and clutch shots but shouldn't be playing many minutes.

Fish is good only for the 2nd unit. To awaken LA fans from deep sleep, trade for D'Will or D. Paul and trade anybody except Kobe. To start Fish all over again goes along with what Einstein said about "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Bynum to philly for J Holiday and Igudoula and a #1 - piKa

~~please give due respect to the shirtless Laker. Holiday and Igoudala are 2nd unit players in the Lakers team. Again, honor the purple and gold players who brought us 2 Championship or 3 Finals. If the names in the trade are not Dwight, Paul or Williams, let's just proceed with insanity all over again. NO DEAL. Put a little values to our today's garbage, after all they are our ex-Champs.

We need D-Fish to come off the bench, embody veteran leadership, and give solid player/coaching productivity - we need D-Fish as a leader and for his poise, but can't rely on him to be a starting PG, just a solid backup that comes in to give limited quality minutes.

Here is another link recommending this Coach.

You know why? it's RESPECT because you're dealing with all stars and they will listen to this guy than Shaw or Dunleavy. By his stare alone, it has a commanding force to be afraid or get out of the court.


What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


The triangle was the only saving grace for Fisher, since the triangle doesn't require any guard zone penetration. He understood his role perfectly in the set up that was designed for him. His outside shot had been spotty for many years, but he occasionally made a clutch one, he would seldom drive to the rim, but when he did he was successful. He had one particular winner against the Clippers.
However, his liability has usually been on defense, can't blame him for trying hard. He always did, but he was constantly burned on pick and rolls. Whether it was his lack of speed to keep up with the quicker guards, or Jackson's defensive scheme or lack thereof to defend the pick and rolls.
The problem this year was that Blake was brought in to back him up, and that only threw more fuel into the fire. At least in the two championship runs, Farmar was a much better option than Blake. So benching Fisher was never an option this season, and resting him on the bench cost the Lakers many leads with Blake.
I would give Fisher a C-, at the very least, because once again, he played every single game, but he should realize that he would serve the team better as a back up. However, you would need a high caliber point guard as a starter, that's why I believe that the Lakers are one Chris Paul away from being back on top. The Lakers have one too many centers, and I'd hate to see Bynum go, but I wouldn't care if Gasol left.

The lakers team gets an F+ for most of the season and Playoffs. Lakers needs to play at a champion ship level next season and playoffs. I hope lakers win champion ship for years to come and play champion ship level basketball for years to come. I am disappointed about this season and playoffs. I am a die hard lakers fan. I watch every Game Now I want Okc to play the Bulls i the finals and Okc To beat the bulls. I want Okc to beat dalas. I am mad at Dalas,

If Fisher doesnt retire then; Lakers need a new STARTING point guard. Derek Fisher is probably the worst starting point guard in the NBA as far as effectiveness on the court. Fisher at his age is a horrible on ball defender, he doesnt even knock down open shots on a consistent basis anymore. Lakers may wanna keep Fisher around for leadership purposes but not for major minutes on the court. I think Fisher will understand if he is only playing 18-21 minutes because Fisher knows he is very limited as a player.

"B" from me at this stage in his career.

It's the front office's fault for not signing a better point guard to start. Fish would propbably be getting an "A" if he were coming off the bench.

Dude...Lakerholics I know just hearing Fish so adamant about not hanging it up, DAMN dude's like a Cock a Roach. Last year you all cried for Kover and Miller, and your great GM delivers Blake, Theo and the mighty Joe Smith. And now you crying about getting CP3 or DWills....dude you are all RETARDS. You get to keep your CAPTAIN, the little guy with the BIG heart, BIG speech, Big shot the tough BULLDOG. How you like then APPLES, Kobe and Fish a match made in HEAVEN.

Heat in 7, deal with it HATERS.

I just read the story about the governator. I wondered how he asked the maid for sex. "Your ______ give it me NOW!! I would leave Fisher's grading to our residence expert S Perkins but I will add my 2 cents. Fisher is useless no doubt, Plus he can barely hit a layup. He hits the bacboard with the ball with all of his might while flinging himself on the ground praying the refs will call a foul.

Obviously fisher role is to foster team chemistry and show leadership with the malcontent kobe as a co-captain. So here is my grading:

Team chemistry B
Leadership B
Defense F
Skill Level F
Performance F

Overall: D

It is glaringly obvious that Fish should receive an F Minus

and that he is only sticking around to receive a a paycheck.

I don't condone it, but when the checks are that big!

Who knows I might be doing the same thing as him, even though I sucked!

Guaranteed contracts destroy Dynasties!!!!!!!!

This year there was no "INTAGIBLE" factor for D Fish, nor was he successful in the playoffs. I would give him a C- at best just because he is a team leader.
DFish Respect, but it is time to Retire!

Luke Walton is a glorified NBA player.... it's time to join the coaching stuff LUKE!

I am ready for the return of the NFL< tired of the overpaid Lakers and baseball is utterly boring.

Hooray for Fish for continuing to manifest his dream to play for the NBA for the rest of his life.... I learned something GREAT about's all about one's dream and don't let anyone take your dream away from you or let anybody discourage your personal dream........

AAAAAA ++++++++


The only problem with the players we have now we can't win championships. That is a fact. If you dont believe me then watch the playoffs tonight and you wont c the lakers.

I like the LAKER! When it was over the game in this season, I was vere ver sad!

Common Derek. Your effective playing years are over. Probably, you can fare better as an asst. coach. If you'll remain as the starting point guard of the Lakers, what change could we see if you'll be matched against the likes of Cris Paul, Rose, Rondo and other quick footed PGs.Please do the Lakers team a favor.

All you haters of Derek Fisher need to stop!!! If you are a true fan of the Lakers you will know that championships were won with Derek Fisher starting, the most recent one being last year. Had the Lakers played the way they are capable of playing and Phil Jackson actual was interested in coaching we would be playing this very night. Don't blame Derek Fisher for the Lakers coming up short, blame "the black mamba" for coming up short, blame Pau Gasol for not having his head in the game, blame Andrew Bynum for not being able to control his temper and blame Ron Artest for still not knowing the trianlge. Blame the entire bench for not showing up not only in a short lived playoff but for the entire season. It is funny how when the Lakers lose it is always because Derek Fisher can't keep up with the point guards of the league. But as soon as Derek Fisher takes it to the hole against a trotting Kevin Garnett and crew and seals the deal for game 3 in Boston no one has anything to say about Derek Fisher being to slow or old. They just tout Lakers for life and "the black mamba". The "black mamba does not have 5 rings without Derek Fisher. Does Derek Fisher need to come off the bench perhaps so but don't blame him for the Lakers being at home today!!!!!!!!!!!! He did'nt win on his own and he certainly did not lose on his own. You Derek Fisher haters go back and look at Laker history and you will find that Derek Fisher contributed alot more than you think. When Derek Fisher was not playing for the Lakers how many championships did "the black mamba" win? Oh yeah that's right NONE!!!!!!!

Posted by: Renee life long Laker fan | May 17, 2011 at 08:48 PM

Renee for 'ETERNAL LIFE' long Laker fan,

I agree with you. But it's time for Fisher to make a transition gracefully and with dignity, even being a 2nd UNIT.... it's time for him to give the starting point guard position to CP3.


Past performances should not affect today's grades. Today, Derek Fisher is the worst starting point guard in the league.

This is WEAK.

WHERE are the links to the other report cards??

Do I have to design your website for you?

Come on.

It's time for Fish and Luke to move on to the bench, as assistant coaches. Any other outcome is evidence of their selfishness and lack of devotion to the team.

Just bring in a coach who will bench Fisher, we got two more years of this washed-up player and fans still think he has value.
Phil was a fool not to give Blake the starting position from the start. IP talks about how Kobe demoralizes his teammates by playing Me-Ball, but Fisher demoralizes the team just by playing.
Just be a good soldier like Luke and sit on the bench and cash your ridiculous paychecks

D-Fish has my support. I still love him even though it seems like it's a quick guard league. MM - I agree with your grades/assessments so far, even AB's.

But I don't think we are going to see any changes to the starting lineup. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the bench is changed yet again.

Cheers all - PLG

Fish & et al to phoenix for nash, can't get paul now, kobe & steve
have 2-3 more yrs left, can't wait, got to get scolatzo now..........

Fisher is not the problem with this team (although it is certainly time he take a backup role) the bench is. If anyone is still watching look at how the momentum of the game changes for the positive when Chicago and Dallas' bench comes into the game. With the Lakers the opposite occurred. You bench 7-12 has to produce and have the ability to change momentum or keep a deficit from getting bigger and the Lakers didn't have that. Mitch Kupchak gets all of this credit but he failed miserably in that area and must purge the team of stiffs like Joe Smith, Theo Ratliff, Luke Walton and Steve Blake for real NBA players.


This guy is a liability and that San Antonio shot was a long time ago . . .

Posted by: RICK | May 18, 2011 at 12:37 PM"

What makes him classier than any other player? Do the people that say this know him personally?

It's obvious that Fisher is best fit for the second unit. He should have been second unit last year, as Steve Blake would have made the first unit a lot better with his point guard skills. I'm not worried at all about his age; he's better, quicker and faster with rest and he'll be a cornerstone for his leadership of the second unit for the next two years.

Fish I love ya man but its been 15 years and those young fresh guards in the league arent getting any slower. You would be great off the bench, but man you have to give up the starter roll.



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